13th August, 2021
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, has advised doctors in the country to be humble and carry themselves with dignity, rather than ‘play God or compete with God’.
Ngige gave the advice while speaking at the 2nd Summit of Medical Elders Forum (MEF) on Thursday, in Abuja.
The event, organized by the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), in collaboration with 50 forward, had as its theme, “Medical Profession: a Look into the Past, Present and Future.”
Nigige expressed his concerns over the state of health nationwide and opined that the medical profession was in danger.
“At no time in the history of NMA and the medical association, was I seeing our association and our profession ever being in danger, as I am seeing them now.
“Many people will not see it, but from where I am sitting and standing, I can see danger ahead.
“We are one of the oldest professions on earth, metamorphosing from natural and traditional healers to take away the pain from people and consequentially save lives.
“We don’t create lives, God creates, we only preserve people’s lives through the act of God. In doing so, God has given us some powers and those powers are near his own to create.
“But, there is something God does not want, God does not want when he gives you powers you use it to try to say that you are like him or you are competing with him.
“God loves you to do that which he has asked you to do; to use that power with humility.
“Doctors should ask themselves questions; why is it that it’s when your colleagues are in government that you go on the greatest number of strikes?
“Some of these colleagues were Presidents, Secretaries-General of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and even NARD,” Ngige asked?
According to him, Dr Onyebuchi Chukwu and Dr Isaac Adewole have had to face plenty of strikes. And since our government came on board, I have consolidated four strikes; something is wrong.
“We need to ask ourselves some questions and be straightforward with the answers
“We must start by telling ourselves the truth. You say they dislike doctors, what did you do for them to dislike you?
“Yes, there is peer envy; yes, some wanted to study medicine and they couldn’t; we know it and if you know it, you carry yourself with dignity and humility,” he added.
Earlier, NMA’s President, Prof. Innocent Ujah, had said a good number of people within and outside the health sector were envious of doctors, without appreciating the tedious academic process of becoming a doctor.
“Everybody is envious of the doctor, what is the problem? What have we done? Is it a sin to be intelligent? By the way, we are the most intelligent,” he stated.
Ujah, who raised concerns over the release of some circulars by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) and the National Universities Commission (NUC), stated that they were contradictory.
He explained that such contradictions formed part of the reasons behind the disharmony in the nation’s health sector.
“A circular from the Salaries and Wages Commission is coming out that no more CONMESS for doctors, who are lecturers.
“But, it is there as a circular, so why is the doctor singled out?
In Lagos state university, a doctor with a fellowship cannot contest the Vice Chancellorship
“Without a Ph.D., you can’t teach at the clinical level, you can only teach biochemistry or physiology: and you are saying that the best can no longer be a Vice-Chancellor.
“He can become a professor but he can’t become a Vice-Chancellor, what kind of contradiction is that?
“We have written from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to tell them to stop that, if they don’t, we will challenge it, because we cannot take what we are seeing.
“Some circulars from the NUC are quite contradictory and we need to sort them frontally and you can see the dismemberment.
“These are the things that cause problems for us. When we try to solve some of these issues other issues crop up.
“We need support from our elders; people value us but we don’t value ourselves. We should be able to resolve our conflicts and those who are in government should know that they are doctors, you will come back to us,” he said.
The Executive Director, AHBN, Dr Aminu Magashi, noted that for the health system of any country to deliver quality health care services to the population they serve, there must be strong political leadership commitment and effective health system governance.
Magashi said others are adequate healthcare financing, human resources for health, effective regulation and legislation, and strong private health sectors.
He added that the medical and dental profession was critical and key to the socio-economic and political growth and development of any nation, including Nigeria.
“The profession, which is driven largely through the Nigerian Medical Association and its affiliate bodies, has been a major pivot for repositioning and advancing the profession.
He, however, lamented that “the effort of various governments to translate the association’s laudable recommendations for the growth, development and good of the profession, the health system and the Nigerian people, had been less than satisfactory.
“An association like the NMA serves as a watchdog of government and through constructive engagement with the government, help to deliver quality and smooth health care delivery to the Nigerian population,” he explained.
Magashi said both should work as committed partners for progressive developments rather than as antagonists.